March 21, 2018



Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” says that we create rituals to be a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma. We all need places of ritual safekeeping so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around in every moment or be totally defined by them.

Think of some of the common rituals we have for big events ~ around birth, death, marriage, coming of age and so on. There’s a comfort we find in them and there is often intensity and deep feelings with these rituals. Rituals are a container for our deepest feelings and thoughts ~ it’s like a beautiful chest that holds our psychic burdens and provides spiritual sustenance. And yet, a ritual can become empty of feeling because we’re not paying attention to it or it no longer serves its function.

Relationships are often full of ineffective rituals as we try to dump our daily or long-term stress into, or draw meaningful support from, relationships that just can’t contain the intensity. This is one reason why cancer can put such stress on relationships. We simply can’t continue with the same-old, same-old ways of relating because we and our lives are so changed by cancer.

This can be the opportunity to create new rituals, to add to those daily rituals that do help us to feel safe ~ including meals, exercise, bathing and grooming, connecting on social media. These rhythms and rituals can help us feel less anxious. And we need to add to them to help with the inundation of stimulation we receive on a cellular level when cancer is in our life. When we are this deeply shaken, we can creatively and consciously create rituals as part of our support structure.

Some such rituals might include attending a cancer support group, cultivating a regular spiritual practice, joining a community. We can also create a life ritual that reflects our deeper search for meaning and use it to replenish our spirit and our love relationship.

Like two martial artists who bow to each other in greeting, you and your partner can enhance your intimate and sexual life with rituals. As you contemplate what to create that will support you, here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you invite your partner into intimate time with candles, soft music, or a bath?
  • What would it be like if you both shared from your heart about your intentions for your intimate and sensual/sexual experience?
  • How would it feel to go for a walk in the moonlight, holding hands, breathing in the night air as you contemplate getting into bed for intimacy?
  • What would it be like to have a weekly date for intimacy and sexuality, special sensual time just for the two of you? Or just for you if you are single? What rituals would have you feel adored?

I invite you to think about how you can change routines into rituals, especially in the areas of intimacy, sensuality and sexuality. If you’re willing to share your inspiration and rituals here, please do so.

© 2012 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.

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This blog is not meant to serve as medical advice of any kind. Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

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